Minister launches cutting-edge training for planners

Issue date: 29 November 2005

Issue date: 29/11/05

University of the West of England delivering skills to create sustainable communities

An innovative, desktop training course to give planners the skills to deliver well-designed communities that meet the need of all their residents was launched today by Baroness Kay Andrews, Minister in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

The ODPM has awarded £250,000 to the University of the West of England to deliver a flexible, distance-learning course in spatial planning.

Planners will be trained to implement the new, spatial planning system, without sacrificing valuable time away from the office. The modular structure will also enable planners to gain credits towards higher qualifications.

On her visit to UWE to launch the new course, Baroness Kay Andrews said:

"Delivering sustainable communities requires skilled professionals with the vision and commitment to create places where people are proud to live and work. The planning system has a major part to play. Well-made local plans and planning decisions contribute to sustainable development and a built environment that makes life better for the local community, ensuring the right mix of homes, services and green spaces are delivered.

"We recognise that planners need support and training to deliver the new system of spatial planning, with its focus on partnership working and community consultation. But planners can't always spare long periods out of the office to attend courses at universities or colleges, so ODPM has made £250,000 available for UWE to deliver a distance-learning course in spatial planning that planners can access from their desktops. I urge every Chief Planning Officer and Chief Executive to give their staff the opportunity to benefit from this flexible and innovative course."

Students will be able to choose from a range of different topics to suit their own and their employers' needs. It is anticipated that students will come from all over England and Wales, although the course offers opportunities for students further a field.

Janet Askew, Project Manager at UWE, said:

"UWE is delighted to have been given the opportunity to assist in interpreting the new spatial planning agenda which aims to change the culture of planning. It is very encouraging that the ODPM is prepared to invest in professional development for implementing the new planning system. Its success depends on planners accepting the challenge of spatial planning, which we believe offers new opportunities to create sustainable communities."

As part of the UK presidency of the EU, the Deputy Prime Minister will be hosting a Ministerial Informal meeting in Bristol on 6 and 7 December 2005 which will focus on creating better places to live, sharing experience and good practice across the EU. Among the items to be discussed include how we can develop the professional skills needed to create sustainable communities and strengthen economic prosperity. The spatial planning course at UWE will draw on good practice from Europe as well as the UK, in addition to providing the tools and techniques for implementing the new planning system.


Notes to Editors

1. On 7 March 2005, Keith Hill announced that ODPM would provide £250,000 initial funding for the course, after which it is intended to become self-funding. See ODPM press notice:

2. The new course will be delivered by web-based distance learning and is aimed at those already qualified and working as planners both in the statutory, private or NGO planning environment.

3. The flexible, modular format of the course is designed to allow for continuous professional development through to a Master's qualification or even professional doctorate via the accumulation of credits. The course is not only accessible to all planning practitioners, but also affordable, with each credit costing £350, or £250 if unexamined.

4. The provision of a distance learning course is not intended as an initial course in professional training for prospective planners. It is designed to form part of a CPD programme for planners already in post, who may be members of the RTPI (Chartered Town Planners) but would have some years’ experience of planning practice. If you are interested in enrolling on the course, contact UWE: e-mail Tel +44 (0) 117 328 3114.
5. Representatives from the media are invited to register their interest in attending the Bristol Informal by completing the Media Accreditation Form to be found at: and then returning the completed form by e-mail to: . The closing date for accreditation is 30 November. Once you have registered your interest we will contact you shortly to confirm you have been successful and provide further details for your attendance at the event. If you have any media enquiries about the event contact Andrew Mathias in the ODPM press office at or +44 (0)207 944 5274.

Back to top